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Just Stop Saying Stuff

November 13, 2013

We love accountability. We love transparency. We just don’t like tough questions.

That seems to be one of the biggest problems over the last month. The State Department of Education and Superintendent Barresi are a little defensive over the problems with the rollout of the A-F Report Cards. Between the ten or so times site grades changed to the mistakenly posted district grades, it has been a comedy of errors.

There also have been head-scratching statements in the press, such as today’s comment from Barresi in the Broken Arrow Ledger:

“Last year, a big criticism we had was that grades changed without anybody understanding why or being able to see the environment in which they are changed. We thought that was a valid criticism. We were determined this year, to make it totally transparent. And, everyone would be able to see every little change that occurred.”

We’re supposed to believe that the changes, and our ability to view them constantly, were intentional? This follows a snafu, a disavowal, and a lost generation (or two) of children. Even Governor Fallin has gotten in the act, threatening to withhold support of additional funding for schools if the complaining doesn’t simmer down (before she backpedaled clarified that statement). When it comes to speaking, maybe it’s time to understand that less is more.

I’ve posted this before, but it bears repeating. Here are some key dates in the A-F timeline, as it unfolded:

  • 10/26/2013 – Friday nights grade recalculation did not apply the state average increase for growth points. This has been corrected.
  • 10/25/2013 – Corrections applied from data verification requests-
    • Winter EOI Biology, History test data were added to the system and STNs cleaned.
    • Second Time Tests not marked as Second Time Test were corrected for EOI testing records.
    • Second Time Tests removed from 3% OAAP, OMAAP cap.
    • All 8th grade EOI tests count for current 9th grade site.
  • 10/22/2013 – Corrections applied from data verification requests-
    • Added Advanced Coursework Bonus Point to all Middle Schools and High Schools
    • Corrected rounding issues
    • Missing STNs added to OAAP, Winter EOI, Summer EOI Tests (Could affect participation percentage)
    • Corrected middle schools whose data was pulling high school tests into calculations
    • Corrected College Entrance Exam data for multiple schools
  • 10/17/2013 – The issue with the application of the 1% and 2% caps on OAAP and OMAAP tests has been corrected.
  • 10/17/2013 – Issues with the Bottom 25% Growth have been corrected. These corrections caused changes in the site grades.  Please use the subject links from the Report Card Detail Screen to view and verify the students included.
  • 10/16/2013 – Report card details and grades now available to district administrators
  • 10/15/2013 – Final scored files received from CTB

The SDE wants us to see that they repeatedly misapplied their own rules and formulas. That’s nice. It’s sort of like one of those restaurants where you can see into the kitchen. Why then do they not want us to see other things? For example – and again, I’ve written about this before – if you’re looking for API scores from 2002 through 2011, you get the following message:

Please Note: The State Department of Education is currently reviewing historical assessment and accountability reports to ensure compliance with the Oklahoma’s new “Student Data Accessibility, Transparency and Accountability Act of 2013.” Some sites on this web page may be temporarily disabled until compliance is ensured.

As I saw one person write on Facebook, “I do not think that word means what you think that means.” I guess it doesn’t help you continue delivering the message that you invented accountability when you have to provide evidence that an accountability system existed prior to your election.

I also wonder why the SDE doesn’t publish the accurate list of Priority, Focus, and Targeted Intervention Schools from 2012. The list they have here was what the SDE submitted to the USDE as an example, before they had done actual calculations last year. That’s unfortunate if you’re listed here, but you actually weren’t on final School Improvement lists. It’s also unfortunate if you’re a blogger and you thought you’d take some time in the next few days to research whether the listed schools showed improvement. Not that I know anyone like that.

Barresi says one more thing in the article that struck me as strange. In addition to district grades being re-released later this week, she says the SDE “will issue a state grade.” If I’m not mistaken, that has been up on the A-F website since the school grades were released last week. For the record, Oklahoma earned a C-.

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  1. Bonnie
    November 13, 2013 at 9:56 pm

    That website is such a mess! Can anyone tell me when and where to find the list of priority, focus, & intervention schools for 2013??

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    • November 13, 2013 at 9:59 pm

      They haven’t officially notified the schools on the various lists yet this year. Since it’s November, some direction in that area would probably be a good thing.

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  2. November 13, 2013 at 11:17 pm

    The API scores are critical for researchers who track various initiatives like safe and healthy schools data. Any organization that works with schools to improve student out comes uses the API data. Because the SDE is interfering with the Office of Accountability’s ability to release new and / or updated API scores, researchers are unable to facilitate research based programs for our schools. Someone needs to file a Writ of Mandamus and “make” the office of accountability release the API scores.

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